Friday, July 09, 2010

Note Worthy: Lullaby 2008 Viognier


It’s always interesting when a U.S. winemaker claims to be making restrained as opposed to powerful wines. In this case, the winemaker is a woman and originally from France.

Lullaby Winery is a recent arrival in Walla Walla, Washington, a college town that in the last 20 years or so has become increasingly wine centric – so much so that this year’s wine blogger’s conference was held there. I was unfortunately unable to attend because, among other things, the conference promised answers to the question ‘why become a wine blogger?” From time to time, I wonder why I bother to do this. Some readers probably wonder why, too.

In any event, Lullaby winemaker Virginie Bourgue says on an entry page to a website still under construction that ever since she was a student in enology, her dream has been to own a winery. Hmmm. Dreams, lullabies: they do seem to go together.

The splash page also says that the name Lullaby “evokes femininity and has a sense of softness that characterizes very well her style of winemaking.”

Ms Bourgue was recently in Seattle with some of the wine she has made and I dropped in on a tasting sponsored by a retailer. The wines were all made from grapes generally associated with the Rhone region of France.

To me, the standout was a Lullaby 2008 Viognier ($29) which, to my palate, best represented the idea of restraint. That was the only Lullaby offering that I purchased.

Viognier, probably more often experienced as a component in a blend than consumed on its own, is a very floral, perfumy white wine that goes well with Thai and Vietnamese food.

I enjoy the flavors of viognier, but sometimes they can be just too much. When this grape is milked for all the flavor it can deliver as is sometimes the case in Washington State, it can be overwhelming. A little bit tastes very good, but soon one doesn’t want much more.

While the Lullaby Viognier features the traditional flavors, they are, in this case, subtle and refined. As a result, this is a far more versatile wine than a “bigger” viognier and easier to drink.

I would recommend the Lullaby Viognier except for three considerations. First, it is probably very difficult to find at present, but hopefully that will change over time.

Second, at nearly $30 a bottle, the Lullaby is rather expensive for this type of wine, especially in the current economic climate. It’s good, but not that special and therefore over priced.  Consumers are being asked to pay a small-production premium,which, in effect, indulges the winemaker.

And third, despite the restrained flavors, both my fellow panelist and I found this wine to be rather “heady,” meaning that you may experience some unpleasant after effects if you consume too much – too much in this case being what you might normally consume of another white wine..

I don’t think it is the alcohol content, which is 14.1%. Rather, I suspect the effects in question are produced by some component of the wine associated with the grape itself since I’ve noticed the same phenomenon with viognier made by other producers.

As usual, two of us drank about half the bottle with one dinner, resealed the Lullaby Viognier and reopened it a day or so later. It had faded a bit – becoming somewhat “flat” and less interesting. So if you do decide to try a bottle, open it at an occasion when the entire bottle is likely to be consumed at one sitting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a long time lurker I would like to reassure you of your importance to me and hopefully many others. I find your blog to be thoughtful well written and lacking the hyperbolic feel of many sites. Your method of tasting blind and over a couple of days with recommendations of quality and cellaring are very helpful. Thank you for your time